'Suspicious object' in Coupeville bank sparks bomb scare

The 'suspicious object' turned out to be a one-foot-long, black PVC container that held one blank deposit not, said Detective Sergeant Beech.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

What was likely an absent-minded mistake turned into a full-scale bomb investigation in Coupeville Monday afternoon.

“It’s a little overkill to keep the deposits dry,” joked Detective Sgt. Mike Beech of the Island County Sheriff’s Office after he learned that a one-foot-long, black PVC container found inside the bank contained only a blank deposit note.

The container’s owner probably forgot the ominous-looking, waterproof container on the counter, he said.

Authorities treated the potential threat as real until the object was deemed safe by Navy experts.

All the fuss began shortly after noon when a Whidbey Island Bank employee called 911 after discovering a one-foot-long, black PVC container inside the bank.

The bank manager carried the suspicious object outside and placed in on the ground in front of the building, Sgt. Beech said., adding that anyone who finds a suspicious object should leave it as they found it and call 911.

The Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment Northwest used a radio jammer to scramble radio frequencies in the area, which would prevent anyone from remotely detonating the device if it were an explosive.

The unit also employed the help of a small robot to test the device, and a brave, moon-suited soul to get up close and personal and X-ray the object before it was entirely cleared as a hazard.

The ordeal resulted in a nearly two-hour closure of Main Street between Third and Sixth streets in Coupeville.

The investigation isn’t over, Beech said. The sheriff’s department will review the bank’s security tapes to determine who left the container behind.

Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, Island County Sheriff’s Department, the Coupeville Marshal’s office and the Navy’s explosive ordnance disposal unit responded to the call.

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